Sito regarded Joret with teary eyes as he started to leave the infirmary morgue. She hoped her gaze would be cause enough for him to stay where he was, but her plan didn't really work all that well. He only gained a sort of bewildered expression, but it was nonetheless thoughtful.
Joret, thus, turned to face her properly. He studied her face and waited patiently for her to speak.
She wondered what to say. Her lover had just died; she was not thinking too much about how to string a sentence together. "Joret," she began quietly, in a small voice, "please, stay."
He stood stoically for a short while after her words had been spoken, but soon grew lax and sighed. He shook his head, and Sito frowned lightly, evidently confused. "I have a shuttle in the bay," he said bluntly.
Sito's frown grew into a look of sadness. She didn't dare look around the morbid surroundings which enveloped her. "A shuttle?" she repeated.
Joret nodded. "I'll likely miss it," he said.
"Where are you going?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper against the hum of DS9's stabilisation thrusters and passing cosmic wind.
Joret looked uncomfortable. "To Reticuli III," he explained, looking plaintive.
Sito ran that through her mind. "Is that a colony planet?
He nodded slowly. "Yes. Only small, but I hear there are a few Cardassians there," he elaborated. "As well as other species."
"Must you leave now?" Sito asked him sorrowfully. She couldn't quite believe - after all she had been through - that she was actually even asking a Cardassian to stay with her, in the same room, a bit longer. Of course, Joret himself and Merek had shown her that not all Cardassians were to be feared, but nevertheless, she was surprised when the question left her lips.
Joret shifted his weight from one foot to the other, looking down at the floor. "I-" he stopped, picked up his reply, "The transport isn't due to leave just yet, but I wouldn't want to spare too much time."
Glumly, Sito nodded, managed to smile. "That's all right."
Joret hesitated, then sighed. He rubbed the back of his neck and approached her. "I can stay a little while longer," he said. And, with a glint of something in his eye - Sito couldn't quite tell what it was; sorrow, guilt, humility - he added, "it's the least I can do."
With that, he stood beside her and the two of them walked out of the morgue. The particles of air which surrounded the dead had left them, but Sito still felt like she was choking.
Joret noticed her discomfort and wondered what to say. "Do you wish to go to Quark's?" he asked. "It is owned by a Ferengi," he said derogatorily, "but I hear the service is not too bad."
Sito wanted to smile, but only said quietly, "No, thank you." Quark's was too near where Merek had been shot. Going back there in such little time would bring that time back to her.
"My shuttle leaves in an hour or so," Joret told her. "But it will likely leave sooner. The Reticuli system is forty light years away."
Sito nodded in understanding. "Oh, well-"
"No, it's all right. You helped me get home, remember. I would have likely been caught, tried and executed," he said, his tone dropping with each word. "We can go to my quarters, if that's all right with you."
She considered it, then nodded in agreement.
Joret's quarters were only provisional. Thus, they were furnished in keeping with the usual Spartan Federation style. Only the bare necessities regarding furniture, with plan items, and a standard food replication unit in the corner, with sleeping and bathing quarters towards the back.
Sito walked in behind Joret and sat on the Federation couch.
"I was surprised to see you here," she said.
He nodded wisely. "I knew it used to be a Cardassian station," he explained. "It's now Federation-maintained, along with the Bajoran Provisional Government, so I assumed it would be an ideal place for someone like me to go."
"Someone like you?"
"Yes." He nodded, choosing his words carefully. "I am not Starfleet, though I do involve myself in such things. I am Cardassian by birth and by upbringing, but I don't fit in. I don't see how I could conform to Cardassian ethics, as it were."
She nodded, trying to understand. "I see." She looked around the room. "Merek and I," she said, fighting to retain her stoic expression, "we came to the station not by choice, really."
"Oh?" He cocked his head to one side.
She continued, trying not to mention Merek's name too much. She wouldn't cry. "I take it you already know much of what... happened?"
She picked up her point. "Our instruments, on the shuttle, showed that we were being scanned, and we saw the transmission was Cardassian."
"It was DS9," Joret said with a realising nod.
Sito agreed. "We were asked to dock and, well..."
Joret's smile told her she needn't continue.
"If you like," Sito ventured, "I can come with you to your transport ship."
Joret nodded gratefully, and they made for the shuttle docking point.
Joret walked over to the docking area, but turned. "I hope I do see you again," he said to her.
Sito's heart was still heavy with sorrow; she had seen her lover shot by an oppressed, prejudiced member of her own race, heard him as good as propose marriage to her, and then witnessed his death. Her expression reflected what she felt inside, but she was happy for Joret. "So do I."
Joret hesitated before he boarded the transport, giving Sito enough time to approach him and hug him goodbye.
"Goodbye, Joret," she said softly, watching him go.
"Goodbye, Jaxa," he replied as he stepped into the transport. "And, thank you."